Acupuncture Plus Herbs Beat Ibuprofen For Menstrual Pain
Acupuncture and herbs outperform ibuprofen for menstrual pain relief. Jiangxi Maternal Health Hospital researchers conducted a controlled clinical trial comparing the effects of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine versus ibuprofen for the relief of menstrual related abdominal and lumbosacral pain. Acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine produced a 91.7% total effective rate. Herbal medicine monotherapy produced an 86.7% total effective rate. Ibuprofen monotherapy produced a 73.3% total effective rate. The findings indicate that acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine is more effective than ibuprofen for the relief of dysmenorrhea. 
Diagnostic criteria for the study were abdominal or lumbosacral pain before, during, or after menstruation. Pain was described as dull, distending, or stabbing in nature, and was accompanied by nausea, vomiting, cold limbs, or cold sweats. The symptoms were cyclic in nature and, in some cases, so severe that they led to fainting.
The women were required to be ages 15–35 years, have a regular menstrual cycle lasting 25–34 days, and have received no related treatment in the month prior to the study. All women were approved by the hospital ethics committee and gave voluntary, informed consent to participate.
Exclusion criteria included secondary dysmenorrhea due to uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), recent analgesic treatment, damaged skin at acupoint sites, concurrent heart, liver, kidney, or hematologic diseases, psychiatric disorders, pregnancy, or lactation. Women having previously given birth were also excluded, as were those currently taking part in other clinical trials.
The women were asked to rate their menstrual pain using the numeric rating scale (NRS) and were given a dysmenorrhea severity score according to official Chinese medicine gynecology research guidelines. In the acupuncture plus herbs treatment group, there were 44 cured, 11 effective, and 5 ineffective cases, yielding a total effective rate of 91.7%. In control group 1, there were 39 cured, 13 effective, and 8 ineffective cases, yielding a total effective rate of 86.7%. In control group 2, there were 36 cured, 8 effective, and 16 ineffective cases, yielding a total effective rate of 73.3%. The results indicate significantly greater improvements in the acupuncture plus herbs treatment group compared with the two controls (p<0.05).
The results of this study indicate that the combination of acupuncture and herbs significantly reduces the severity of dysmenorrhea and performs better than ibuprofen or herbal medicine alone. The researchers determined that the acupuncture and herbal medicine treatment is safe and is not associated with adverse effects.
1. Peng Yao (2018) “Clinical Study on the Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea with Acupuncture Combined with Huo Xue Hua Yu Decoction” Jiangxi Traditional Chinese Medicine Vol.49 (430) pp.53-55.